We continue our series of associate spotlights with Hahn Chang, a junior in Columbia College and a former Senior Editor for JPS. Our Lead Senior Editor, Matthew Michaelides, sat down with Hahn last week.
Matthew: So, Hahn, thank you first of all for taking the time to meet with me. Do you think you could start off by telling us a little bit about your major?
Hahn: I study political science and I’m concentrating in computer science. I study political science because I think that all of our lives are touched by government institutions and [want to understand] how they interact with society and our own lives. I study computer science because in the field of political science, it’s one area that’s not well-known. We clearly saw that the federal government doesn’t understand how to use computers or technology – either that or they know it really well. It was one of the two extremes. But, although the failure of the healthcare.gov website doesn’t indict the entire policy, it shows that there are definite holes, and I want to be a part of that solution of how to incorporate technology into public policy and government.
Matthew: That’s great! So, do you have any specific plans for what you think you might do with integrating those two things after you graduate?
Hahn: I’m actually a junior, but I am finishing up a semester early! I want to go to graduate school and get a MPP, a Master’s degree in public policy. Afterward, I want to work for a government agency and figure out how to make services better through the use of technology. Right now there’s a big problem in that everything is digitalized and everything is done by computers, but we don’t have Medicaid applications that are going through or food stamp applications that are working. Those things aren’t necessarily on the cutting edge, and I want to make sure that those things get up to speed and don’t fail either, because the people that need them the most are the folks that are low-income, that don’t speak English, that don’t earn that much. So, I’d really like to make sure that government services really do work for all people.
Matthew: That’s fantastic! So, I’m going to change gears a little bit – how did you find out about JPS? Why did you join it? What has been your experience and what have you gotten the most out of JPS?
Hahn: So, I’m good friends with Jonah, the EIC-emeritus. He talked about it a lot last year, and I thought it was really interesting, so I wanted to join and see what it was all about. Lo and behold, I’ve been in it for two semesters – I love it. I really enjoy reading the papers. Editing is great too, but especially that first stage, where you read it, where you get to see what people are passionate about. It’s really an interesting time to learn things. Some people say that undergraduates can’t really do [good research], but the papers I’ve read have all been excellent, and I think that one should not doubt the power of undergraduates when they’re really passionate about something and when they’ve really put in the time to do something. They come up with great results.
Matthew: So, just a few other questions. First, if you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be?
Hahn: I would have dinner with Gandhi, because I feel like what Gandhi was able to do was transcend time, because when we talk about a man like Abraham Lincoln or George Washington, they were men, they were creatures of their time. Abraham Lincoln was probably a racist, but he did great things in the context of is time, and I think that he was a great president and a great man. But what Gandhi was able to do was transcend time by tapping into a universal ethic that we still use today. And that’s not to say that Gandhi wasn’t flawed, but I think that his philosophy was a lot more thought out than those of other people who we consider great men or great women.
Matthew: Finally, and on a very light note, do you have any special talents?
Hahn: I’m exceptionally mediocre at a lot of things!
Matthew: Aren’t we all?
Hahn: Well, let’s see here…I’m not a championship chess player like the person who is interviewing me, but I actually have a special talent: I am the world’s best capture-the-flag player!
Hahn: Yes, I run fast, faster than the average person in most games, but what really sets me apart is my stealth. If it happens at night with trees, there’s no stopping me. That’s something that I take great pride in!